The Old Mutual Sunday Tribune Three Cranes Challenge, part of the Old Mutual Wild Series, held this past weekend – the 27th of February until the 1st of March, is a 3 day challenge of more than 100km which raises funds for conservation efforts in and around the Karkloof Nature Reserve.
This year’s event proved to be full of surprises, the first of which was announcing that the route on Day 1 would include a 45 minute zip-line courtesy of Karkloof Canopy Tours above the second largest indigenous forest in the country. Kai Schulz, Managing Director of Karkloof Canopy Tours, briefed the runners on safety precautions and what to expect. “The youngest person to ever do one of our zip lines was three years old and the eldest 90,” said Schultz. “If they could do it – so can you!”
Co-title sponsor for the event, Sunday Tribune, also challenged Schulz saying that should he get an individual over 90 years of age to partake in a Canopy Tour, they will feature them on the front page of their next issue. “Challenge accepted,” said Schulz with a smile. All participants raved about the Canopy Tour zip line and sincerely hope it is included in the route again in 2016.
This year saw Eric Ngubane take first place in a time of 08 hours and 56 minutes, followed closely by Lucky Miya only 2 minutes behind – which made for some healthy competition. Third place was awarded to Frank Kienhöfer in a time of 10 hours and 8 minutes. Helen Squirrel – Armstrong was the first lady to cross the finish line in a time of 11 hours and 26 minutes, followed by Helen Buley and Ankia Kienhöfer.
The funds raised from this event are split between Wildlands and Karkloof Conservancy for their conservation efforts in the area. “We rely heavily on this funding to carry out our work,” said Charlie MacGillvary of the conservancy. “We focus a lot of time and energy on environmental awareness in the local farm schools in the Karkloof Valley. Partnerships are key to our work and allow us to conserve the biodiversity of the valley including all our three Crane species.”
“We are moving away from funding ad hoc small-scale conservation projects,” said Deputy Director of Conservation SPACE at Wildlands Kevin McCann. “We are investing in building a business around conservation landuse, in this case running a herd of Nguni livestock to generate sustainable income to manage the reserve.” These conservation investments are only possible with the support of the public and key donors such as Old Mutual.
“It is so exciting to be here,” said Karen Thomas, Head of Brand at Old Mutual. “Old Mutual is now the title sponsor of the Wild Series, so we have hit the year running and it is awesome to be out here. One of the core pillars of our sponsorship is endurance and it is quite amazing to see all these people out here that are so passionate. Part of our brand vision is to help people to do and achieve great things. It is about having these personal connections and relevance with our customers. It is all about building a relationship with them and engaging with them in this beautiful setting.”
Dr Andrew Venter, CEO of Wildlands, addressed the participants on Friday evening saying, “Old Mutual have come on board because they really believe in what we do and want you to experience some of the most spectacular areas of our country, while contributing to conservation efforts.”
“The conservation work we carry out here year after year in this area would not be possible without our event sponsors Old Mutual, Sunday Tribune, Powerade, ABI, Radox and Racefood,” said event co-ordinator Hilary Bruss. “Powerade and ABI kept everyone on route hydrated, while Racefood kept the energy levels up!”
Another surprise was the official unveiling of an exciting new look and feel for the Wild Series. New logos, new events and a new, easy to navigate website – check it out at www.wildseries.co.za, better yet, enter one of these unique events!